By Rachel Pak
Over the last several weeks, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reported a rise in the number of migrant children seeking refuge in the United States.
With the increase, the federal government’s capacity to process and shelter migrant children has been stretched, leading to children being housed in overcrowded and inhumane CBP facilities for extended periods of time.
Federal officials and some media have called what’s happening at the border a “crisis” or a “surge”— harmful rhetoric that has long been used to dehumanize immigrants and people approaching the southern border.
This language of crisis is a distraction — and it undermines common sense policy solutions that can secure justice and safety for everyone in our country, including immigrant survivors fleeing gender-based violence.
Not only can this language be misleading and a misrepresentation of actual migration flows, but it provokes fear and needlessly divides Americans. It turns immigration into an “us versus them” issue, falsely painting migrants as a threat.
Policy solutions then shift to emphasize criminalization and detention, rather than responding with compassion and welcoming with dignity to those seeking safety. As a result, we’ve seen egregious policies in the last few years, like detaining and separating families and sending people seeking asylum to wait indefinitely in Mexico for their day in court.
When we buy into the sham narrative of crisis, we fail to recognize migrants as human beings and we lose sight of the real issues: how our government is treating people who are escaping unimaginable violence — and how our policies are returning individuals to torture and even death.
Right now, children are being jailed in deplorable conditions where they are susceptible to heightened and enduring trauma. Meanwhile our border remains largely shuttered to adult survivors fleeing rape and horrific gender-based persecution because the new administration has yet to repeal an illegal policy implemented under the last one.
People escaping violence have a right to seek safety. If they can’t, that’s the real crisis.
Moving towards a better justice system isn’t possible if we continue to scapegoat immigrants instead of reckoning with our broken system. People approaching our borders deserve better. At the very least, our language should recognize their humanity.
We should look at the context of border crossings and understand the many complex reasons people leave their homes — including to find refuge from atrocious acts of rape, domestic violence, and other forms of gender-based violence.
We should center the individual in our language — each person carries their own intricate stories and histories. Then, as a country, we must remember our moral and international obligation to uphold the legal right to seek asylum and extend refuge to those who qualify.
We have an opportunity to improve our policies and better secure access to safety for immigrant survivors. But to get there, our approach must shift to one of compassion, reflecting the humanity of people approaching the border.
Everyone deserves to live a life free from violence— and our language and policies should reflect that.
Rachel Pak is the Media Relations Associate at the Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit organization that serves immigrant survivors fleeing gender-based violence.
1 : to rise and fall actively : TOSS
a ship surging in heavy seas
2 : to rise and move in waves or billows : SWELL
the sea was surging
3 : to slip around a windlass, capstan, or bitts —used especially of a rope
4 : to rise suddenly to an excessive or abnormal value
the stock market surged to a record high
5 : to move with a surge or in surges
felt the blood surging into his face
— Harry Hervey
she surged past the other runners
Call it what it is…. a crisis. If it isn’t a crisis when the children are packed into cages that are 800% over capacity, being raped, not tested for COVID, no masks and no social distancing and toddlers being dropped 14 feet over a border wall, what do you call it? I call it a crisis on the tax payers dime. Thanks Joe!
Exactly. It is nothing but a self made Biden Border Crisis. Biden blew the illegal immigration whistle all through his campaign. Come on Man!
I would like Rachel Pak to explain why during the Trump administration it was called a border crisis and now during the Biden administration to stop calling it a border crisis? Even though there are more people crossing the border. Even though a Border Patrol chief said the flood of immigrants trying to cross into the US is at crisis levels. You know things are bad when even liberal news outlets like CNN can’t come up with a defense for Democrats. Host Brianna Keilar called out the Biden administration on Wednesday for refusing to call the ongoing situation at the border a crisis despite metrics like apprehension numbers reaching all-time highs.
Agree, the media seems to take it way off base. Its a crisis plain and simple. So I guess Cancer is not really a crisis but covid is. Here we have illegals coming into this country and the democrats don’t seem to get it, but maybe they are only looking at future votes. IN other countries, well it appears the US is so very different.. https://www.loc.gov/law/help/illegal-entry/chart.php
You are right! It is not a border crisis! It is a illegal alien invasion. Over 100,00 illegal aliens per month………..if this continues it will destroy our constitutional republic.
IT IS A BORDER CRISIS. When you send a signal around the world for all to come you create a crisis.
Just another left wing liberal WOKE op-ed. I guess according to her we should call it a Border Party.
Graydon Parsons says
Amazing how we have changed the language and moved away from the obvious. These are not migrants these are illegal immigrants breaking federal laws when they enter our country.
I am an immigrant, a legal immigrant who took the time and trouble to immigrate through the legal channels.
It amazes me that in a country that holds the rule of law so dear and penalizes its own citizens harshly to the letter of the law have chosen to exempt a massive group of people, and shift the language to suite the liberal game plan to shift the voting base in the swing states.
Call it what it is, this is a political push to change the landscape of the American voting block.
I am sure that you will ignore the current poles where over 56% of Americans disagree with the current border policies that the current, and not the past administration have hastily implemented, America is not a bottomless pit of money at some point this will come home to roost.
Combat Vet says
What rock did this person crawl out from under? Totally detached from reality
Typical POG. Can’t even elaborate how the individual above is “detached from reality.”
Hammock Resident says
It is a crisis when 100,000 illegal aliens are coming across the border illegally, not crossing at border checkpoints and observing established procedures. It is a crisis when teachers are giving in person instruction to illegal aliens but not children of tax paying citizens. It is a crisis when states like NY & CA are approving payments of up to $15,000 to illegal aliens. All these incentives, encourage illegal aliens to jump the line. Was kind of a message is it to the folks that want to follow the law, and seek to come into this country legally. It is a disgrace. The real estimate of the number of illegal aliens in this country is above 25 million not the 11 million figure always quoted. That 25 million estimate is before the latest surge. You can not empty out entire countries into the United States. There are not enough resources. It is interesting how other countries, for example Canada limit and control legal immigration into their country. When I travelled to Europe when I was 18, I needed to show I had resources to live there 30+ days. We do not even stop the illegal immigration much less control the legal immigration, when we let folks flood across the border illegally, and then do not send them back immediately. Why are we the bad folks that dont care for kids of parents that abandon their children. When the United States allowed 11 million illegal aliens into the country Congress had a deal to increase border security at the same time. The 11 million plus folks have been coming in illegally but attempts to enforce the current law, much less make it better, are ignored. Very sad this situation.
Toddlers being dropped over the wall to fend for themselves, 20,000 minor children now in US custody costing taxpayers $60 million PER WEEK, but this bleeding heart liberal sees no crisis. Okey Dokey, Rachel, okey dokey.
@The blind leading the blind
Unsurprisingly, the ossified, myopic POV of the local reactionaries prevails in these comments. Instead of understanding the world as it truly is, i.e., literally – the only home of everyone – they would have it that everyone are their own world. They are incorrect.
OUR entire world is critically ill. The situation at the border is a symptom of that illness.
“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22
I can’t believe I even wasted my time reading such drivel. It’s a crisis for crying out loud. Foreigners are breaking our laws in record numbers. We are letting them pass right through. We aren’t the same country as we were in the 19th/20th centuries. Long ago, if you came here great, but you were on your own. You didn’t come here and then stick out your hand and say feed me. We can’t simply take everyone in when we provide a ridiculous amount of govt support to the poor. How the left can’t see this is maddening. You can’t expand systems to provide to the poor, then continue to allow oodles of poor people in. Immigrants (both legal and illegal) from South America consume 86% more welfare and social services than their native counterparts. Close it up tightly, or dump the welfare. Can’t have both. Especially not with debt at $28T and counting.
LOL! Some people just can’t handle the truth.
Is only a crisis if the liberals want it to be a crisis. To the rest of the sane world, its a Crisis regardless of what party is in office.